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This morning a man clad in purple turned to face the Living God with His people and prayed for them, for us, in Latin, the worship language of Augustine and Athanasius and Aquinas and Bellarmine and Leo XIII and Pio of Pietrelcina, Lord bless them, and prayed at our head passionately and at length for […]

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Coming on the heels of the sacking of Bishop Joseph Strickland, Pope Francis has attacked another faithful Prince of the Church, Raymond Cardinal Leo Burke. BREAKING: Austen Ivereigh writes #PopeFrancis personally confirmed Monday he's decided to remove “Cardinal Burke’s cardinal privileges — his apartment & salary — because he had been using those privileges against […]

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Input Guarantees Outcome?


I recently encountered a statement that I thought an interesting illustration of logic differences that lead to some of our conflicts about getting to the best solutions. The statement had to do with the potential electoral contest between President Biden and former President Trump. But this post is not about that electoral contest. This post is about the logic behind the statement.

The statement was that Biden is obviously in better health than is Trump, and thus more suited to be elected, because Biden eats better than Trump does (noting Trump’s fondness for fast food hamburgers, French fries, and diet sodas); we see Biden exercising while we see no evidence that Trump engages in physical exercise; and Biden is relatively thin while Trump is visibly overweight.

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Sermon: Ch…ch…Changes Forty years or so, my mother had a farm and a pick up truck named Merle. One day, Mom and I were headed up the steep dirt driveway,  a cloud of dust flying up from around Merle’s tires and settling on the windshield. The glass was already covered with dirt, dead bugs and […]

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I Escaped from Auschwitz


If you’ve been following my posts, you might be wondering what in the world was I thinking when I began to read a book about Auschwitz. The answer is, I don’t know. But I felt compelled to read it. As I progressed in my reading, it became clear that the author had something important to tell me. My reaction to the book was complex: I was both horrified and inspired. I’d never read a holocaust story quite like it. And it was well worth the read.

This remarkable tale was told by Rudolf Vrba. In 1942, he left his town, Trnava, Slovakia. As a teenager, he had become aware of the restrictions that were growing against Jews, and finally decided when deportation laws were enacted, it was time to leave. In spite of the dangers, a number of people helped him escape along the way. But he was captured by the Hungarians, viciously beaten, and then put into a transit camp. From the moment he arrived in that camp, he was obsessed with figuring out how to escape. On the train to Auschwitz, when people were told they were being sent to a resettlement camp, a boy cried out:

‘Anyone who thinks there is a resettlement area at the end of this line is a fool. We’re all going to die!” I did not believe the last part of his statement. I had no intention of dying. The first part, however seemed reasonable enough, for the lies were falling fast. I decided I would not let my rucksack off my back, let alone out of my sight. I made up my mind, indeed, that from that moment on, I would trust nobody.

Does G-d Intervene in Our Lives?


Recently I had a conversation with a friend about G-d’s role in our lives. Specifically, we discussed whether G-d intervenes, when, and why He does. I started thinking about the subject more deeply, and realized that I have made several assumptions about G-d’s intervention (since I believe He does), and I wondered how other people perceive his role in their lives.

For my part, I see G-d’s intervention in a number of ways. I think I receive guidance from G-d, whether it’s an idea for a post, a sudden insight on how to address a problem, helpful advice to give to a friend, and many other experiences. No, I don’t hear a voice, but these thoughts emerge, often unbidden, and I explore them. I don’t always trust what I’m receiving, which probably says something about how well I trust myself, so I often mull over what I’ve learned. But generally, those are the kinds of things that emerge. I also feel blessed that I “perceive” G-d’s presence; I don’t know how to explain it, except to say there are times when I am physically alone, but don’t feel alone.

I think that there are times when I’ve had a sense of foreboding, particularly about a person, and I ask myself (since it’s usually someone new in my life) whether this is a person I should trust. If ongoing communications are awkward or troubled, I eventually often leave the relationship.

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This is a snapshot from my great-grandfather’s sermon notes. Notes on the authority of the Bible: just what you’d expect from the father of my grandfather Hal Buckner! “Words inspired.” “Holy men inspired.”  “No admixture of error in it.” The answer of Jesus to Satan: “It is written.” Preview Open

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The Mob


This week I’ve had three seemingly unrelated scenarios drifting through my mind. The first is the recent tragic story of the teenager in Las Vegas who was killed by an angry mob for coming to the rescue of his smaller friend. The second scenario is an ancient Biblical one that I was discussing with the study group I facilitate; we discussed the nature of Sodom and its destruction. And the third scenario was any one of the pro-Palestinian protests roaming through a city’s streets. Let me share how they are related, and how they bode danger for the future.

In the first story, we learn how events played out for a young man who tried to help a friend:

A Shiva Speech for Yael Wittenberg


The following speech was delivered at the Seuda (meal) marking the end of the shiva for Yael Wittenberg (nee Nicole). A shiva is a period of mourning where the family stays in their home and talks about those who have passed. I never met Yael, but had the honor of speaking at this occasion…

At every shiva I attend, I ask the same question: What one attribute, or characteristic, or action should I carry forward from the person who has passed on? What was the singular gift that you, the mourners, hope to see echo through the reality that remains? Having heard about Yael’s bullheadedness, I expected the answer would be just that. She was stubborn and, eventually, she got her way. But that is not what was shared. Instead, I heard about something else entirely. I heard about her love of G-d – even in the face of her devastating experience of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s). I heard about her dedication to the spiritual and the mystical. I heard about her Emunah (Faith).

Jewish Awakening: Faith and Politics


Countless times over the years, people have asked me why Jews overwhelmingly vote for the liberal or progressive ticket, even though many of the Democrat positions appear to be counter to their interests. I won’t spend much time explaining the reasons, but let’s just say that they often worry about the underdog (no matter how valid the reasons are for their suffering). I’ll also add that more observant Jews tend to be Conservative, and barely observant or non-observant Jews tend to be on the Left.

In spite of that history, though, recent events seem to have had a remarkable effect on the less observant Jews. After October 7, Chabad distributed a survey to Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis across the country, and these were the results:

The survey results paint a picture of a Jewish community that is responding to this fraught moment with a renewed sense of solidarity and faith. Rabbis reported that people are lighting Shabbat candles, purchasing and donning tefillin—some for the first time—saving the Shema prayer daily, baking challah, wearing identifiably Jewish jewelry such as Magen Davids [Jewish stars], and attending synagogue more regularly. The respondents noted dramatic growth among Jews who in the past had attended synagogue once a year, if at all, and who had generally expressed disinterest in Jewish life, who are now exhibiting a new desire to connect with their Jewish heritage and other Jews.

A Sad Day in the Diocese of Tyler, Texas


I woke up this morning to this email link from LifeSiteNews.

Pope Francis has removed our good and faithful bishop, Joseph Strickland. This is devastating news to me and to all of us in the Diocese of Tyler, Texas. Bishop Strickland is one of the few bishops in the USA who actually practice what they preach. I’m so angry right now I don’t know what to say.

Cards, Crazy Golf, and Christ


The Casino. Destination Services. Sunrise Cafe. The Library. Business Center. Theater. Bridge. Concierge. Serenity Spa. Jewelry. Sundries. Muster Station C.

Cruise Director. General Manager. Event Coordinator. Sickbay. Doctor.

Is Islamic Terrorism Inevitable?


Those who claim Islam is an inherently terroristic religion are branding one of the world’s most popular religions as essentially anathema to freedom and any other modern value system. The result is the need for a permanent war. Islam cannot be removed from the world, and the Taliban demonstrated that it can persist in the face of overwhelming Western force. Furthermore, as it is a collection of apparently very persuasive ideas, Islam cannot be checked at a border and prevented from crossing. The answer to such a threat seems to be the suspension of our own values in the pursuit of restricting Islamic ones. But even that seems ineffective — France does not exactly play with kid gloves, but they are unable to enter vast neighborhoods dominated by Islamic forces.

On the other hand, those who claim it is essentially a religion of peace face an uphill climb in terms of evidence. Right now, anti-Jewish Islamic mobs the world over are demonstrating that terroristic Islam is seemingly spreading. England has been cowed into a position of open acceptance of Islamic violence. Policy decisions behind the ‘religion of peace’ model seem to have led us to where we are — with vast Islamic populations posing an increasing threat to a well-meaning Western world.

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“Zionism is not about making Jews safe. Zionism is about making Jews free.”  –Caroline Glick Caroline Glick related a story about a man who resented the anti-Semitism he was experiencing in this country. When a friend recommended that he move to Israel, he was reluctant to take that step. After all, going to Israel would put […]

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Filling in the Gaps


This week has again opened with the losses of our soldiers. One of my sons didn’t have two classes today. He didn’t have math because his math teacher’s son had been seriously injured over the weekend. He didn’t have his class on the creative arts because that teacher’s son had been killed. As you may know, Jews have an event called a shiva after a death. People are welcomed into the homes of those who are mourning. For up to a week after a death, we talk about those who have passed. It is almost like the final skip of a rock across a lake.  A life’s last waves ripple across the surface just as it is sinking.

Today, shiva events are large events. There are marquee tents set up outside houses and the families sit and talk for days and days. People bring them food. Whole communities come to honor those who have been lost defending our people.